Yesterday, a news reporter, reporting on the tornadoes in Missouri made the comment “God must be angry at the people of Joplin Missouri …” This put me in remembrance of this account from the life of Jesus

Luke 13:1-9 (ESV)
There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  [2] And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?  [3] No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.  [4] Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?  [5] No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
[6] And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none.  [7] And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’  [8] And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure.  [9] Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ “

Do you think that the people of Joplin, Missouri, were worse sinners than all other Americans, or North Americans, because they suffered this way? No, but I tell you, unless people repent they shall all likewise perish.

Suggesting that God is angry at the parts of the world that suffer great calamities is to reveal an understanding of God and theology in general that is absent of Gospel truth. There is not a corner of the world that does not deserve to be destroyed today. The fact that most people in the world wake up this morning in relative peace, absent of major natural or other disasters, is testimony to God’s mercy. The fact that the sun rose is a testimony of His mercy. We come to think that the good things that happen to us are what should happen to us and that God is mistreating us when He allows the bad.

The people of Joplin are not worse sinners than we are. God is not angrier at them than He is at others. God could have stopped the tornado, but He did not, for reasons that no human being is competent to answer. In Luke 13 Jesus does not tell us why the Galileans upon whom a tower fell, were not spared that fate while others were.What He does tell us is that none of us are guaranteed a long peaceful, tragedy free life and we had better be ready to go when our time comes. None of us can say with certainty that we will live out the day. Our lives are in God’s hands and the judge of all the earth shall do right. He knows what He is doing and it is better that His will be done than not, even when it involves horribly hard things.

The question is not “Will God let me live a long peaceful life?” The question is “Am I ready to die?”

Suggesting that Missouri is under the anger of God in ways that the rest of us are not suggests that we are not in God’s bad books. “He may be angry with them but not with us!” But the reason people wake up in safety anywhere is because God is patient and is offering chances for people to repent of their sins (II Peter 3:9). And unless we do repent we shall likewise perish. They are not worse and we are not better. Do not presume upon the mercy of God. Life is fragile and the future is unknown. Be ready to die.

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